Free Software Workers and The Myth Of a Deterritorialized Knowledge Production

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:54 PM
Room: Annex F205
Oral Presentation
Michael VICENTE , University of Technology of Compiegne, Compiegne, France
Software and Information Technologies of Communication have an important place in the development of globalization ( Castells , 1998). Since the mid 1990’s, in opposition to capitalist globalization based in intellectual property,we have seen the rising of Free software (Linux , Firefox ... ). This new way of producing software, thought Internet communities involve a free participation, and give the image of an happy deterritorialization of production. This social model of knowledge production is presented as having many virtues that potentially eliminate geographic and social determinants related to a territorialization . From a critical perspective, we propose first to describe the main discourse features of the actors of Free Software supporters and then from an empirical study, we will compare these theses to the quantitative study of data that we have collected. Using social network analysis on a large sample (N = 10,494 ) of free software developers , belonging to hundreds of different free software projects, we therefore chose to study the coupling between coordination and territoriality , including investigating the homophilies ( Lazarsfeld and Merton , 1954).

While we might expect a territorial decoupling , we analyze quasi systematically  homophily phenomena: territorial ones, but also in terms of skills . This setting light of homophily phenomena allows us to question the perspective and deterritorialization present in discourses.

Also, we can realize a strong embedding of these communities in the elitist academic institutions , as well as a strong professionalization of the activity.